F-35 Test Delays Continue, [although] Combat Debut

Program progress, politics, orders, and speculation
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operaaperta

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Unread post25 Mar 2021, 12:33

doge wrote:Software related articles. 8)
https://www.aviationtoday.com/2021/03/2 ... h-21-2021/
Slow Software Loading Process Delayed F-35 Updates
By Frank Wolfe |03/18/2021
A slow software loading process for the Lockheed Martin F-35 delayed aircraft updates, but the latest software drop to be fielded this summer for the Combat Air Forces (CAF) has resolved that problem, a U.S. Air Force official said on March 18.

Under Continuous Capability Development and Delivery (C2D2), F-35s are expected to receive software updates every six months. C2D2 is divided into four six week quarters during which the U.S. Air Force 53rd Wing tests F-35 software tape updates. The 53rd Wing is the service’s primary operational test wing, which has about 50 units at 20 sites.

“We moved to C2D2 in Tape 3 for the F-35 back in the middle of 2019,” Air Force Lt. Col. Mike “Pako” Benitez, director of staff for the 53rd Wing, told a Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies’ Aerospace Nation forum on March 18 . “It proved the concept. Everyone decided this was what we needed to be doing. However, when we got into Tape 4, we ended up running into some process breakdowns. It really came down to a mentality.”

What!? :shock: Please be securely. :doh:
https://aviationweek.com/defense-space/ ... 4-progress
Software Bugs Rattle U.S. Air Force F-35 Block 4 Progress
March 24, 2021
A software bug that effectively would have disabled the Northrop Grumman APG-81 radar on every U.S.-operated Lockheed Martin F-35A came uncomfortably close to being released to the Air Force fleet early last year. “We went all the way to the end of test until we realized the radar does not work,”...


Here’s a transcript (apologies for the editing) of what was actually said on the Mitchell Institute livestream, very interesting info on C2D2, takes place at around 18m50s on link below-

Deptula- I hear a lot of talk from the airforce nowadays about rapid software development being the next big thing and hear terms like agile software development and devsecops now in the f-35 has moved to c2d2, an agile software development framework called continuous capability development and delivery. Can you summarize just what this c2d2 is and how it fits into the larger integration and innovation discussion?

Benitez- Absolutely, I'm going to spend a little bit more time on this because it's incredibly incredibly complex and probably not all the audience is really into software development.

Deptula- I'm not either so as i'll tell you, you don't have to build a watch just describe the watch.

Benitez- That's right so what i'll say is that it's the future, it's valid, it's where we need to go, but i also tell you that we struggle a bit with some of the processes, the equipment to pull it off and honestly a little bit of the culture, but we'll get into some of those things. So what i want you to think about for everyone is, here i have an iphone, okay there's three types of software on this phone, the first is like your your phone the camera or the gyro inside the phone has firmware that kind of tells what the sensor what to do. The other part of it is the iOS when you turn your phone on it manages your battery your wi-fi, that is an aircraft operational flight program and then the last thing are the apps that ride inside the iOS and so those apps are the mission data. So mission data is our electronic warfare group, the firmware is vendor ip, so we don't see some of the firmware of that software type stuff, so what we're talking about when we say agile software development for aircraft, we're talking about the operational flight program that's the iOS for the phone. So agile is a framework and to dumb that down to something that i can understand, think about it as just a faster ooda loop. So the legacy software development is a really really big slow loop, agile is faster. So think about it like running around a track and so it's not faster because the person running around the track is speeding up it's faster because the track is shorter and so he doesn't have to run a quarter mile he only has to run an eighth mile. So because it's a shorter loop it's more responsive to changing needs so when we have emerging requirements we can actually integrate them much easier and then because you are doing rapid software development you in theory have less big changes and because you have less big changes you have less big issues so that's kind of the overall kind of concept of what we're trying to go. Now to tell you the story for f 35 c2d2 i'll use an example of the f-15, just so you can see the difference between legacy and kind of where everyone's trying to go. So the f-15 suite 9.0 is fielding to the CAF right now and that is hardware and software. We in the 53rd wing, we're actually wrapping up suite 9.1, which is 95% software and one small hardware upgrade to the radar chip that unlocks some new capabilities. But in the end we're on the 14th test tape revision of that test software over the course of 18 months, and we got to do it to get it right honestly, and by that i mean it has the stability, it has a performance, and it has the pvi pilot vehicle interface so when i push the buttons i know what's going to happen and it's intuitive. None of these things come with a big instruction manual and you shouldn't need one, like your smartphone it should be very intuitive. So roughly one year before that 18-month cycle we actually start the requirements working group and then the contracting mechanisms to lay in how long, how much effort, and what cost is it going to take to do this. So by the time that software hits the war fighter that ooda loop is three years from concept to combat.

For software it's relatively rigid and so in that three year time if there's something else that comes up, we some flexibility to insert new capabilities, but not really, so that's not how to win, and i don't think i need to explain that anymore. That's why every platform is looking to move off of it including f-15, they have a thing called CDNI. For f-35 we have C2D2, it's the furthest ahead of all the platforms, so it's why we like to talk about it for a few reasons. So it's agile software development,almost, there's one alibi and there's one big asterisk that i'll get to. It’s very important that the audience understands, but let me unpack it. Alright so c2d2 takes that huge cycle that we just talked about and it breaks it up into four quarters, think like a football game, I’ve got four quarters and each quarter is six weeks long. So I have the first quarter of six weeks, the second quarter, the third quarter, the fourth quarter and after the fourth quarter the game's over and that ofp fields to the CAF. So what that translates into is we have six week test cadences for tape updates and then every six months the CAF gets an update to their aircraft. So that's kind of how it works. The first obvious question is why can't you just go faster and get an update 10 times a month on my iphone. Why can't you go faster? So i'll tell you, there's a little bit of history here. So we moved to c2d2 tape three for the f35 back in the middle of 2019. It proved the concept and everyone decided yes this is what we need to be doing. However, when we got into tape four we ended up running into some process breakdowns and it really came down to a mentality. So historically, remember i told you earlier we don't have a mission support group. We don't have a maintenance group either, so we rely on host unit maintainers and those are training bases, operational bases and the reason we do that in the past is because we like to have operationally representative maintenance, so that when we field something to the fleet we want to make sure that the maintainers in the fleet can actually do it the same way, versus hey this is not executable for the airmen on the flight line but the 30-year experience contractor can do it just fine. So we don't want that disconnect, but what it hasn't been able to do is maintenance to support operational tests, and so it sounds like a nuance. But it is a huge difference, and because we've used host training and ops maintainers they don't have the same authorities as our dedicated developmental test maintenance, where they have what we call redline tech orders and they can actually load things. So we need new approvals, and so what ends up happening is that out of that six week cycle every six weeks we would lose two weeks just doing paperwork to get approval to squirt the jet with the software so they can test. So in reality we ended with four weeks of tests, four weeks of tests, four weeks of tests, four weeks of tests. All these policies are self-imposed, I’d just like to say it's not a contractor thing, it is a service self-imposed bureaucracy. But that lack of test time led to some serious catches at the 11th hour. At the end of that fourth quarter that i told you about, one of them that i can share, is that we were about to field a tape to the f-35 but the radar literally did not work and it went all the way to the end of test until we realized the radar does not work. It was transmitting, but it was not actually receiving and processing the signals correctly due to a software glitch. So what happened was we actually didn't field tape four, instead, we went to overtime. So now we're in football over time past the fourth quarter, we did an emergency tape to fix some of those issues and then we fielded it and that's the software that are in the air force f-35s today. Then we went to tape five, long story short, tape five didn't field either and that was due to some of the same problems that we talked about with software loading authorities and really it came down to stability issues with the ofp. So even if we had a more stable ofp, even if we had less time to test, it might not have been an issue, at the end of the day the confluence of two of those factors together meant that we did not field tape five. So now we're on tape six, I will say that we do have the authorities to load the software, it took us way longer than i'd like to admit to get a signature on a piece of paper to do that, but we have it ,so p6, which is what we call production tape six, is going to field to the CAF next month. Now here is the the beauty of it, due to the c2d2 construct, all of the capabilities that we did in tape five, that didn't field, we’ve rolled that into tape six and so next month when we start loading operational f35s, they're going to get tape 5 and tape 6 together. So it's going to be a huge jump in capability, so the f35s you're going to see this summer or not the f35s you saw last summer. All right, so two big things to talk about, the first one is an alibi I kind of highlighted a little bit, so this is a software cycle and does not include hardware. Hardware changes this, right now,in block four f-35 it's at least software and so that's easy. F35 next ,when we get into the mid-20s, when this closes out we probably are going to have to do something different. F22 is seeing it right now with racer, that's their agile software, they do eight weeks and eight months is kind of their cadence but they have hardware baked into it and so they're running into a lot of issues. Now the asterisk for agile software, for this, is not exactly agile and i'll go back to the phone. So when your phone has an issue it actually sends a report back to the developer. Whether it's the app, the software, and they're tracking the health of the fleet for your iOS, and that's how they know what to fix for the updates and then they push it. We don't actually have feedback for the code that we deployed to the operational fleet and so when we do have a test escape, that's what we call it, we don't actually have the loop in the ooda loop to know that it's an escape and actually collect that data near real time. It's a very manual process. We don't actually have more aircraft, there's no money to buy more aircraft to do more regression testing, that's when we go and look for errors, and we don't have any more money for manpower to operate and sustain them. So what we've actually come up with is what we call crowdsource flight data. Now you may have heard a little bit of it, it's basically three game changers in one and let me unpack that a little bit. So the first one is it's the CAF as a sensor, and so we're turning all operational aircraft into sensors and now we can monitor all of our software that's deployed on them and respond to issues as they arise. So we can instantly look at the data, we can see what's wrong and we can push a fix and roll it into the next c2d2 tape. The second game changer is, it opens the door for what we call ops recce, so we can do signal capture and analysis for rapid reprogramming which is really what our electronic warfare group is is interested in, and then the last thing for game changers is, by using crowd source flight data, is big data analytics. I'll give you a couple examples just to expand people's mind a little bit, of what we're talking about. I'm not going to use a test example, I'll use a training example, so if you remember a few years ago we had an f-22 out at fallon that had rotated too early on takeoff and they skidded down the runway. During the accident investigation they noticed a trend, a cultural trend, in the community where, because the f22 had so much power, pilots were rotating earlier and earlier deviating from some of the the tech order procedures. That wasn't caught until after this mishap happened and they went back and looked at tapes of people taking off and landing. So with this kind of mechanism, you can actually push a button and actually analyze everyone's takeoff and landing data every day. You can analyze trends, you can score it and so you think about accelerating pilot training accelerating tactics development. You know I can tell you, you could develop the algorithms to assess people's brake turns at bfm, so you can automate a lot of these things that are very very time consuming and manual right now. So that's kind of a training example but and i'm telling you this the CAF AS a sensor, so crowdsource flight data, it's not a power point, we can do it, we're actually doing it now, we've been doing it collectively for about four years and we have about four thousand hours logged on f35s in our wing with it. So it is the game changer that the air force needs, it's still not a program of record, we're working on that and we're struggling right now to get the requirements written and the budget kind of closed out for that so we're we're pedaling hard on that but that's kind of how agile software development, what it needs, to actually close that loop to make it effective.

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Unread post25 Mar 2021, 14:25

Probably the most important line in the text —

“ All these policies are self-imposed, I’d just like to say it's not a contractor thing, it is a service self-imposed bureaucracy.”

Say it ain’t so. :roll:
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Unread post25 Mar 2021, 17:07

:applause: Thanks for the transcript above 'operaaperta'. :applause:
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Unread post25 Mar 2021, 22:29

quicksilver wrote:Probably the most important line in the text —

“ All these policies are self-imposed, I’d just like to say it's not a contractor thing, it is a service self-imposed bureaucracy.”

Say it ain’t so. :roll:



Yup.

One of the most profound things I ever read was someone lamenting that the USMC creates some of the best Basic training Grads on the planet, the best NCO corps, and spends a ridiculous amount of time and money on its officers, only to do the most boneheaded things that has them go from "true believers" to "true leavers" and completely misuse them.

its the same thing here, they are not a tech illiterate group. they're not stupid. They're seemingly competent and motivated and have the resources(?)

Thank god we put some brakes on that.
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operaaperta

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Unread post26 Mar 2021, 02:16

Yes bureaurcracy is strangling the F35. Some of the smaller issues that I’ve heard of include:

1- All GSE (General service equipment) has to be approved to a high sea state despite much of it never having to go to sea.
2- F35 approved Tow motors can only have a single seat . Maybe fine on a carrier but not so efficient at land bases.
3- Due to transport issues associated with PAO, an aircraft has to have all of the PAO pumped out in order to remove a component for replacement/repair. WTF, a 20 min job is now several hours.
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Unread post26 Mar 2021, 23:28

“One of the most profound things I ever read was someone lamenting that the USMC creates some of the best Basic training Grads on the planet, the best NCO corps, and spends a ridiculous amount of time and money on its officers, only to do the most boneheaded things that has them go from "true believers" to "true leavers" and completely misuse them.”

I’m with ya. But, I don’t want to stain the many with the sins of a few. Opportunities for insightful and inspirational leadership have progressively diminished as a consequence of the inexorable march of bureaucratic behaviors. “Conform” is the rule of the day; many good people confined by the tyranny of conformity.

This is what bureaucracies do — they write more rules, and find ever-more odious ways to compel compliance and conformity —even in the face of evidence suggesting they are wrong.
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doge

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Unread post10 Apr 2021, 16:47

JPO responded by E-mail. 8)
https://www.nwfdailynews.com/story/news ... 868461002/
DOD says local F-35 software facility at Eglin Air Force Base falling short
Jim Thompson Northwest Florida Daily News Apr.8, 2021
EGLIN AFB — The F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO), a combined group of civilian and Air Force and Navy uniformed personnel overseeing the ongoing development of the F-35 stealth fighter jet, has come under criticism from the Department of Defense (DoD) for apparent deficiencies at an F-35 software laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base.
In a January report, the DoD's office of the Director, Operational Test & Evaluation (DOT&E), which oversees major defense acquisition programs, indicated that the F-35 Lightning II United States Reprogramming Laboratory (USRL) is falling short in its mission of testing and improving software essential for the fifth-generation stealth fighter jet.
Among other responsibilities, DOT&E works to ensure testing is adequate to prove the effectiveness of equipment like the F-35 in a combat environment. In its annual report on testing and evaluation in 2019-20 fiscal year, the DOT&E says the USRL is not able to adequately test and improve the F-35s mission data files.
Those files, also known as mission data loads (MDLs), provide the fighter jet with the ability to search for and identify hostile targets, and to distinguish those signals from friendly signals. The MDLs are "essential to F-35 mission capability," according to the DOT&E report.

The report further notes that the USRL — which has operated for more than a decade at Eglin and is staffed with a combination of military, civilian and contractor personnel — "still lacks adequate equipment to be able to test and optimize MDLs under conditions stressing enough to ensure adequate performance against current and future threats in near-peer (adversaries such as China and Russia) combat environments."
Additionally, the F-35 JPO "recently reduced or eliminated funding support for flight testing of new MDLs, essentially reducing testing to inadequate laboratory venues only," according to the report.
Going on to note that the mission data loads are "essential to F-35 mission capability," the report insists that the U.S. military "must have a reprogramming lab that is capable of rapidly creating, testing, and optimizing MDLs, as well as verifying their functionality under stressing conditions representative of real-world scenarios."
Among the recommendations in the report, the office calls for obtaining "adequate funding to develop and sustain robust laboratory and simulation environments." The report also calls for ensuring "adequate lab infrastructure" to meet timelines for the operational requirements for the latest F-35s and the fighter program's Continuous Capability Development & Delivery strategy.

Questions for F-35 JPO linger over report
Additionally, the report noted that cybersecurity testing connected with the F-35 program has "identified vulnerabilities that must be addressed" to ensure secure operation of the U.S. Reprogramming Laboratory.
Some days ago, the Daily News presented the Joint Program Office with a list of questions via email about the shortfalls noted in the DOT&E report.
Among the half-dozen questions submitted to the JPO were inquiries regarding why the JPO decided to reduce flight testing of mission data loads; what the JPO was doing, if anything, to increase the rigor of testing those MDLs; and what was being done, if anything, to improve the USRL.
A Joint Program Office spokeswoman emailed the Daily News on Friday to say that the JPO is "still working on the more detailed information" sought in the admittedly very specific questions from the newspaper and was "close to having something" in response to those questions.

As an interim response to the Daily News queries, the JPO noted in an on-the-record segment of the spokeswoman's email that the DOT&E report was "completed with the JPO’s full cooperation, including providing DOT&E with access to detailed program data and information."
The email added that issues noted in the DOT&E report "are being aggressively addressed." Those issues, the spokeswoman wrote, "are well known to the F-35 JPO ... and our industry teammates."
"Program risks still exist," the email concedes, but adds that those risks "are well understood and actively managed," and the JPO is "committed to continue working closely with our warfighting customers and industry partners."
The email goes on to say that the F-35 "remains the premier air system of choice for three U.S. Services (the Air Force, Navy and Marines), seven international partners (the United Kingdom, Italy, Netherlands, Australia, Norway, Denmark and Canada) and six foreign military sales customers (Israel, Japan, South Korea, Poland, Belgium and Singapore)."
The email also notes that the "F-35 routinely demonstrates its high-end capabilities at the hands of our joint and international warfighters, is performing combat operations from land and from the sea, and continues arriving on the shores of our partner nations around the world."

Air Force chief: F-35 our 'high end' fighter
In addition to the USRL, Eglin hosts the 33rd Fighter Wing, a flight and maintenance training wing for the F-35.
The F-35, whose prime contractor is the aerospace firm Lockheed Martin, is currently moving toward full-rate production, a milestone that requires the fighter jet program to demonstrate full control of the manufacturing process, acceptable performance and reliability, and adequate infrastructure and resources for ongoing program support.
Flying the F-35 currently costs $36,000 per hour, and it has a projected lifetime cost, through its projected life span of 2065, of $1.7 trillion.
Interestingly, in recent remarks to reporters reported widely across the media, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown called for more judicious use of the F-35.
“I want to moderate how much we’re using those aircraft,” Brown said in those reported remarks. “You don’t drive your Ferrari to work every day, you only drive it on Sundays. This is our ‘high end’ (fighter). We want to make sure we don’t use it all for the low-end fight. … We don’t want to burn up capability now and wish we had it later.”
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Unread post23 Apr 2021, 09:29

WOW, just Wow :doh:

F35 FRP decision hinges on JSE test runs to close out DOT&E. The F-35 Initial Operational Test and Evaluation requires 64 mission trials to be conducted in the JSE and evaluated before the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation’s Beyond Low-Rate Initial Production (BLRIP) report is written. The BLRIP report must be submitted to Congress before the Full Rate Production milestone can proceed.

Then this Pearl from the testimony of Lt Gen Fick

When asked about how the JSE is coming along and why it has taken 4 years + since being removed from LM (Vsim):

Paraphrased- “.....earlier this year we enlisted the help of Carnegie Melon University, John Hopkins University and Georgia Tech Research Institute, to assess whether the task we’re trying to accomplish, the JSE, is even feasible and to determine whether we’re asking for something that is impossible....”

So Milestone C may be being held up by vapourware :bang:

From 3h.06m.46s for full discussion


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Unread post24 Apr 2021, 01:58

“...to assess whether the task we’re trying to accomplish, the JSE, is even feasible and to determine whether we’re asking for something that is impossible....”

If it wasn't so pathetic I would laugh.

“The mother of all engineering ‘science projects’”
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Unread post24 Apr 2021, 02:50

Yes an amazing admition, I'll say the whole JSE thing must be really really complex given the capacities of F-35s together.
The F-35 is Combat Ready and Combat Proven
20 Apr 2021 LM PR

"Did you know the F-35 is proven in combat with six services having employed the aircraft in combat operations or NATO missions? Highlighted below are some of the ways the F-35 is delivering impressive results for the warfighter today.

The U.S. Air Force’s 34th Fighter Generation Squadron recently completed exercise Red Flag 21-1 without losing a single F-35A sortie to a maintenance issue.

The U.S. Air Force also recently flew F-35As more than 4,700 miles from Alaska – from negative 30 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit [I guess flying at high altitude doesn't count?] – to Guam for exercise Cope North 2021, where F-35s conducted Agile Combat Employment training on an austere airfield.

The U.S. Air Force deployed the F-35 to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility for 18 consecutive months and the jet delivered operationally: 42 jets, 1,100 airmen, 1,319 sorties, 352 total weapons dropped and 3,774 25MM rounds expended.

The Royal Norwegian Air Force fighter detachment has wrapped up the second deployment of the F-35 fighter aircraft to executed NATO’s Air Policing mission in Iceland...."

Source: https://www.f35.com/f35/news-and-featur ... roven.html
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Unread post24 Apr 2021, 03:50

I guess the gun works. And they must really like it.

3,774 rounds expended during the Middle East deployment...
Take an F-16, stir in A-7, dollop of F-117, gob of F-22, dash of F/A-18, sprinkle with AV-8B, stir well + bake. Whaddya get? F-35.
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Unread post24 Apr 2021, 09:51

doge wrote:... Flying the F-35 currently costs $36,000 per hour, and it has a projected lifetime cost, through its projected life span of 2065, of $1.7 trillion. ...


Current US GDP is $20.9 trillion, in 2020. Let's presume zero growth (stagnation) in the USA from now to 2065 (which has never happened in the US, nor anything resembling it), that would equate to ...

45 years * $20.9 trill = $940.5 trillion USD total earnings, with zero growth.

So the total life-cycle costs of F-35A, assuming zero US GDP growth, would still be only 0.18% of total US GDP earnings, within that period.

I'm considering that affordable, on a worst-case future outcome, and anyone poncing about with this $1.7 trillion quibble is just wasting everyone's time ... has no clue ............... or is being a total jackass.
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Unread post25 Apr 2021, 17:42

Pardon my naivete...my dumb assumptions, but bear with me a moment.

Why couldn't the F-35 "system" reach FOC by doing something similar to the following:

Determine the location(s) (say NTTR etc.) that have the latest and most capable IADS in western service. Come up with an integrated test plan, and then execute it against said air defense network(s), with the F-35 in full-up stealth mode, running various scenarios. If the jet, in all its forms, can get through the defense networks undetected, drop munitions with high-precision, preferably at night or in bad weather, and then make it out alive, using the current configuration of the jet, then assume it was successful. Have all the partners sign-off on the classified tests, and then move on; think about sustainment and modernization of the new FIELDED weapon system. The JSE, the more I really think about it, is pure tripe. Why? Well, for one thing, it is a SIMULATION, and as such, has a number of ASSUMPTIONS baked in to it.
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Unread post26 Apr 2021, 08:56

jetblast16 wrote:The JSE, the more I really think about it, is pure tripe. Why? Well, for one thing, it is a SIMULATION, and as such, has a number of ASSUMPTIONS baked in to it.


I think it is a very good thing to do, and to get right, for a bunch of reasons, but not for F-35 FOC purposes. It's really going too far to use that as a final 'test' of full operational capabilities being available or not.
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Unread post23 Jul 2021, 14:27

JSE Articles. 8)
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... simulation
F-35 Closes In on New Timeline for Combat Test Once Set for 2017
By Anthony Capaccio July 12, 2021
The Pentagon is close to deciding on a new schedule for completing crucial simulated combat testing of the $398 billion F-35 jet against advanced Russian and Chinese air defenses, according to a spokesperson.
The long-delayed 64-sortie exercise in a “Joint Simulation Environment” run by the Navy was last supposed to have been completed in December, though it was originally planned for 2017.
In April, Bloomberg News reported that the Defense Department’s F-35 program office projected the target date as August 2022. The Pentagon declined to comment at the time, saying the schedule was under review.

The F-35 Joint Program Office now “has completed this analysis and is scheduled to deliver the proposed” schedule revision to Pentagon acquisition officials “in the coming weeks,” spokesperson Jessica Maxwell said in a statement.
An independent technical assessment of the simulation exercise by outside experts was completed in May and “those results are informing” the program office’s “proposed revision” to the formal schedule, known as the “Acquisition Program Baseline,” she added.
The testing delay has meant lawmakers are likely to find themselves authorizing the Pentagon to keep buying the next-generation fighters from Lockheed Martin Corp. in fiscal 2022 and 2023 without having a complete picture of the aircraft’s true capabilities. The Pentagon’s current five-year plan calls for requesting 85 F-35s in the 2022 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, up from 79 this year. That would rise to 94 planes in fiscal 2023.

The simulator testing is meant to determine how the fighter will perform against the most advanced Russian and Chinese aircraft and air defenses. It’s a key benchmark in a program that’s been a work in progress for two decades.
The testing is also needed for the Pentagon to make a decision on allowing the program to enter full-rate production, the most lucrative phase for Lockheed because it will allow the U.S. to enter into long-term multiyear contracts that guarantee quantities and prices.
A House Armed Services subcommittee led by Democratic Representative Donald Norcross of New Jersey will convene Tuesday to review procurement of fixed-wing aircraft, including the F-35. Members are likely to press Lieutenant General Eric Fick, the F-35 program manager, for details on the new schedule.

Congressional Vote
The House Appropriations Committee is scheduled to vote on the 85-aircraft request as part of its approval of the Pentagon’s fiscal 2022 request on Tuesday. Notably, the committee -- for the first time in several years -- didn’t add to the Pentagon’s F-35 request.
Congress is also being asked to approve, without the final testing, additional funds in fiscal 2022 for the F-35’s most important upgrade: Known as “Block 4,” the upgrade has grown in estimated cost from $10.6 billion in 2018 to $14.4 billion now.
In a report released last week summarizing earlier testimony on long-term sustainment costs, the Government Accountability Office disclosed that Pentagon officials told evaluators a full-rate production decision might not occur until 2023.
A decision on full rate production and related evaluations would signal that the Defense Department has completed a range of initial operational testing, addressed critical system deficiencies, and taken action to address key funding issues, Diana Maurer, a GAO director who supervised the report, said in an email.
But for now, “no one knows when the F-35 program will formally enter into full-rate production,” she said.
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